Gateway Theory

Research, statistics, and other data regarding onset of drug use, age of first use, and progression of use. This section unpacks and debunks the hypothesis known as the "gateway theory".

Evaluating Gateway Theory Using Cross-National Data

(Evaluating Gateway Theory Using Cross-National Data) "The present paper examined the extent and ordering of licit and illicit drug use across 17 disparate countries worldwide. This comparison, using surveys conducted with representative samples of the general population in these countries, and assessment involving comparable instruments, allowed for the first assessment of the extent to which initiation of drug use follows a consistent pattern across countries.

Relationship Between Teen Marijuana Use and Use of Other Drugs

(Relationship Between Teen Marijuana Use and Use of Other Drugs) "Our results indicate a moderate relation between early teen marijuana use and young adult abuse of other illicit substances; however, this association fades from statistical significance with adjustments for stress and life-course variables. Likewise, our findings show that any causal influence of teen marijuana use on other illicit substance use is contingent upon employment status and is short-term, subsiding entirely by the age of 21. In light of these findings, we urge U.S.

Little Evidence of Causal Gateway Effect for Soft Drugs

(Little Evidence of Causal Gateway Effect for Soft Drugs) "After applying these methods, there is very little remaining evidence of any causal gateway effect. For example, even if soft/medium drugs (cannabis, amphetamines, LSD, magic mushrooms, amyl nitrite) could somehow be abolished completely, the true causal link with hard drugs (crack, heroin, methadone) is found to be very small. For the sort of reduction in soft drug use that might be achievable in practice, the predicted causal effect on the demand for hard drugs would be negligible.

Other Associations Between Cannabis and Subsequent Drug Use

(Other Associations Between Cannabis and Subsequent Drug Use) "Other mechanisms that might mediate a causal association between early cannabis use and subsequent drug use and drug abuse/dependence include the following:
"1. Initial experiences with cannabis, which are frequently rated as pleasurable, may encourage continued use of cannabis and also broader experimentation.

Alcohol and Tobacco As Gateway Factors

(Alcohol and Tobacco As Gateway Factors) "While covariates differed between equations, early regular use of tobacco and alcohol emerged as the 2 factors most consistently associated with later illicit drug use and abuse/dependence. While early regular alcohol use did not emerge as a significant independent predictor of alcohol dependence, this finding should be treated with considerable caution, as our study did not provide an optimal strategy for assessing the effects of early alcohol use."